Beyond the Repertory Grid: New Approaches to Constructivist Knowledge Acquisition Tool Development

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Nov 14, 2013 (5 years and 3 months ago)


To appear in K. Ford & J.M. Bradshaw (Eds.),
Knowledge Acquisition as Modeling.
New York: John Wiley, 1993. Also to
appear in a special knowledge acquisition issue of the
International Journal of Intelligent Systems,

January/February, 1993.

Copyright © 1993, Wiley; In K. M. Ford & J. M. Bradshaw (Ed.), Knowledge Acquisition as

Beyond the Repertory Grid: New Approaches to Constructivist Knowledge
Acquisition Tool Development

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Computer Science, Research and Techno
logy, Boeing Computer Services

Seattle, Washington 98124 USA

Kenneth M. Ford

Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, University of West Florida,

Pensacola, Florida 32514 USA

Jack R. Adams

Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharin
es, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1

John H. Boose

Computer Science, Research and Technology, Boeing Computer Services

Seattle, Washington 98124 USA


Personal construct theory
provides both a plausible theoretical foundation for
knowledge acquisition a
nd a practical approach to modeling. Yet, only a fraction of
the ideas latent in this theory have been tapped. Recently, several researchers have
been taking a second look at the theory, to discover new ways that it can shed light
on the foundations and pr
actice of knowledge acquisition. These efforts have led to
the development of three “second
generation” constructivist knowledge acquisition
systems: DDUCKS, ICONKAT, and KSSn/KRS. These tools extend repertory grid
techniques in various ways and integrate
them with tools springing from
complementary perspectives. New understandings of relationships between personal
construct theory, assimilation theory, logic, semantic networks, and decision analysis
have formed the underpinnings of these systems. Theoretic
al progress has fostered
practical development in system architecture, analysis and induction techniques, and
group use of knowledge acquisition tools.

1. Introduction: Personal Construct Theory and Knowledge Acquisition

Personal construct theory (Adams
Webber, 1989; Adams
Webber, 1990; Agnew & Brown, 1989a;
Agnew & Brown, 1989b; Kelly, 1955; Kelly, 1966; Kelly, 1969; Kelly, 1970; Mancuso & Eimer,
1982; Mischel, 1964)

has provided both a plausible theoretical foundation and an effective pract
approach to knowledge acquisition in a variety of settings. In particular, efforts to apply
repertory grid
techniques to knowledge acquisition have met with a great deal of success. In fact, personal construct
theory and repertory grids have become so

widely known and used that people often equate them. Yet

despite the high level of research activity, only a fraction of the ideas latent in personal construct
theory have been tapped. Recently, several researchers have been taking a second look at the th
eory, to
discover new ways that it can shed light on the foundations and practice of knowledge acquisition.
These efforts have led to the development of a new generation of personal
based knowledge
acquisition tools. While not discarding repertor
y grid techniques and representations, these tools
extend them in various ways and integrate them with tools springing from other complementary

In this paper we review past contributions of personal construct theory and summarize new directi
Section one discusses personal construct theory and repertory grids. Section two discusses new
understandings of relationships with complementary theoretical perspectives underpinning
constructivist approaches to knowledge acquisition. Section three e
xamines three “second generation”
knowledge acquisition tools that have benefited from these theoretical developments.

1.1. Constructive Alternativism and the Foundational Role of Distinctions

Personal construct theory is based on the research of George
(Kelly, 1955; Kelly, 1969; Kelly,
. The theory’s fundamental postulate and its eleven corollaries were derived from a single
epistemological premise, that of
constructive alternativism.
According to this principle, ‘reali
ty’ does
not reveal itself to us directly, but rather is subject to as many different constructions as we are able to
Webber, 1989; Adams
Webber, 1990; Agnew & Brown, 1989a; Agnew & Brown,
. Thus, any event is ope
n to a variety of different interpretations. This does not imply, however,
that one interpretation of that event is as good as any other. On the contrary, different ways of
construing the same event can be evaluated in term of their relative predictive uti
(Mancuso &
Eimer, 1982)
. That is, some interpretations of an event may prove more useful than others for
anticipating similar events in the future.

1.2. Personal Constructs

Kelly defined his notion of
personal construct

as fo

“In its minimum context a construct is a way in which at least two elements are
similar and contrast with a third.”
(1955, p. 61)

Thus, a construct simultaneously differentiates and integrates. To

is both to abstr
act from past
events, and to provide a reference axis for anticipating future events based on that abstraction. The
process of construal thus lays the ground for all subsequent logical and mathematical reasoning:

“The statistics of probability are based
upon the concept of replicated events.
And, of course, they are also contrived to measure the predictability of further
replications of the events. The two factors from which predictions are made are
the number of replications already observed and the amou
nt of similarity which
can be abstracted among the replications. The latter factor involves some
complicated logical problems

for example, representative sampling

and, in
practice, it is the one which usually makes predictions go awry. Since the

e judgment of what it is that has been replicated is the basis for
measuring the amount of similarity, we find that the concept
formation task which
precedes the statistical manipulation is basic to any conclusions one reaches by
mathematical logic.”
(Kelly, 1955, p. 278)

Though few would disagree with Kelly’s observation, in practice designers of knowledge acquisition
tools have given little attention to supporting the preliminary conceptual aspects of modeling that
Kelly identifi
es as so crucial.

1.3. Persons

Kelly’s theory provides a rich characterization of the efforts of individuals to actively anticipate and
control their environment. He draws explicit parallels between the processes that guide scientific
rch and those involved in everyday activities. His notion of
personal scientist
assumes that all
people actively seek to predict and control events by forming relevant hypotheses, and then testing
them against their experience
(Mischel, 1964)
. In Kelly’s own words, “the aspirations of the scientist
are essentially the aspirations of all men”
(1955, p. 43)
. As Einstein
(1936, p. 763)

put it, “The whole
of science is nothing more than a r
efinement of everyday thinking.”

In Kelly’s view, humans model their environment and scientists model humans through a like process

“I think truth can be approached by simulation and by simulation only… Man
gets at the truth of things… b
y erecting constructs to simulate it the best he can…
[And scientists] devise machines to simulate

not man directly

but theories
about man… the theories, in turn, are constructed to simulate the human processes
they are supposed to explain. But the simulat
ion does not stop there. The persons
themselves are simulators. They attempt to simulate each other

too much, some
say. They simulate their parents, their gods, a presumed rational way of life, and
the expectations of others. In fact, a lot of people even
make a big to
do about
simulating themselves. This is known as ‘trying to be yourself’ and is often
regarded as quite an accomplishment. Sometimes people simulate machines. This
is sometimes called ‘being objective.’ [One scientist] has even programmed his

people to behave like computers. Some psychologists undoubtedly will take this
to mean that he has succeeded in getting people to behave psychologically.”
(Kelly, 1963, pp. 225

In Kelly’s view, a major goal of both individual
s and social systems is anticipation. We simulate to
improve the “accuracy” of our anticipation of aspects of the future that are important to us. Action is a
form of active anticipation that seeks to make desirable outcomes more likely.

1.4. Fundamental
Postulate and Corollaries of the Theory

Kelly’s fundamental postulate asserts that, “A person’s processes are psychologically channelized by
the ways in which he anticipates events.”
(Kelly, 1955, p. 46)
. Hence, for Kelly, all our

representational processes are essentially anticipatory
Webber, 1989)
. He elaborated the
logical implications of this proposition in terms of eleven corollaries, five of which are directly
relevant to this paper.

Dichotomy C

“A person’s construction system is composed of a finite number of
dichotomous constructs”
(Kelly, 1955, p. 59)
. Kelly believed that the dichotomous structure of
personal constructs is an essential feature of the way in whi
ch people organize information. For
example, if a person simultaneously perceived an event to be equally pleasant and unpleasant in the
same respect, then this distinction would be meaningless for that event.

Construction Corollary:

“A person anticipates
events by construing their replications”
(Kelly, 1955,
p. 50)
. Each person employs constructs to forecast events, and later to evaluate the predictive utility of
those forecasts. Although the same event obviously never recurs, we us
e our personal constructs to
organize perceived similarities and differences among events into coherent patterns or “schemata.”
Using these schemata as “templates” we detect recurrent themes in our experience over time and feed
these representations forwar
d as expectations about the future
(Ford, 1989)

Experience Corollary:

“A person’s construction system varies as he successively construes the
replication of events”
(Kelly, 1955, p. 72)
. With the passage of

time, the perception of new events
constitutes an ongoing validation process that serves to confirm or disconfirm some of an individual’s
anticipations. As a result, a person’s constructs undergo continuous, progressive change. Kelly
assumed that these ch
anges in personal constructs are generally the result of predictive failures
Webber & Mancuso, 1983)
. As noted by Ford:

“We humans frequently anticipate the occurrence or non
occurrence of future
events based on our willing
ness to project observed uniformities into the future.
Thus, we continually glide from the past into the future with our previous
experience preceding us

illuminating and organizing the manner in which
subsequent events will be manifest to us.”
(Ford, 1989, p. 190)

The process through which people continuously anticipate events and test the efficacy of their
constructions is termed the
experience cycle

(Neimeyer, 1985)
. Kelly believed that this cycle of
ipation, investment, encounter, confirmation/disconfirmation and constructive revision represents
a useful heuristic for conceptualizing human experience.

Range Corollary:
“Each construct is convenient for the anticipation of a finite range of events only

(Kelly, 1955, p. 68)
. Each of a person’s constructs has a
range of convenience,

which comprises “all
those things to which the user would find its application useful.” Accordingly, the range of
convenience of a construct defines i
ts extension in terms of a single aspect of a limited domain of
(Mancuso & Eimer, 1982)
. Not only individual constructs, but also, by implication, systems and
subsystems of interrelated constructs have specific ranges of conv
enience. This suggests that some
degree of functional differentiation among subsystems of constructs can enhance its overall range of
convenience with respect to the variety of events that can be accommodated within its framework


Organization Corollary:

“Each person characteristically evolves, for his own convenience in
anticipating events, a construction system embracing ordinal relationships between constructs”
1955, p. 56)
. Co
nstructs usually are deployed in conjunction with related constructs in interpreting and
predicting events. Indeed, a necessary condition for organized thought is some degree of overlap
between the constructs’ ranges of convenience
r, 1970)
. It is this overlap, or
intersection, between the constructs’ extensions that enables an individual to formulate “hypotheses.”
That is, in interpreting an event we essentially categorize it in terms of one or more constructs, and
by reviewing our personal systems of related constructs, we can derive predictive inferences from
that initial categorization. For example, suppose that an individual’s subordinate construct
“polite/rude” was subsumed by a superordinate construct “consider
ate/inconsiderate.” This individual
would expect considerate behavior from people who are polite. It is this predictive function of a
person’s construct system that provides the logical rationale for the Kellyan view that human beings
are characterized by
anticipatory stance.

1.5. Repertory Grids

Role Construct Repertory Grid Test

(Kelly, 1955)

is essentially a method of eliciting constructs
and analyzing relationships between them. It differs from conventional sorting tests
, such as that
devised by Vygotsky
, in that relationships between the categories are evaluated rather than the
accuracy of the sorting. As Osgood, Suci, and Tannenbaum

point out, Kelly’s techniq
ue closely
resembles Semantic Differential procedure. In fact, some contemporary repertory grids are almost
identical in form to Osgood’s own instrument.


(alternative events, states, or entities) and

(dimensions of similarity and diffe
between elements) are central to knowledge representation in repertory grids. The most basic form of
repertory grid is a rectangular matrix with elements as columns and constructs as rows (see Figure 1).
Each row
column intersect in the grid contains

a rating showing how a person applied a given
construct to a particular element. Kelly suggested several techniques for eliciting constructs from
(Adams & Adams
Webber, 1990; Adams
Webber, 1987)
, however, a standard lis
t of
constructs relevant to a given context can be provided to respondents
Webber, 1985a; Adams
Webber, 1985b)

Constructs can be elicited by Kelly’s
method of triads
(Kelly, 1955)

that is, presenting

elements three
at a time and asking how any two of them are similar to each other and different from the third. For
example, consider a physician who is diagnosing heart wall motion abnormalities (
dysfunction, abnorm
etc.). We
might begin by asking in what way are two heart
problems alike and thereby different from another one? The physician could reply that a

condition and an
fx cardiomypathy

condition are alike in that they exhibit
no blue fingers,

s if

is the problem, a
blue finger

Blue finger/no blue fingers

the poles of the construct.

Figure 1.
Example of a repertory grid for diagnosis of heart wall motion abnormalities.

Adapted from figure in
d, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991)

There are practical, as well as theoretical, considerations that underlie the use of triads of elements in
interviewing experts. Because people are so good at listing relevant distinctions,

it is tempting to let
them add constructs to the grid at will rather than using a structured interview process. While it is true
that most experts can readily generate a set of terms to describe their domain, our experience is that
unstructured methods ty
pically produce less interesting terms than triad methods. Since triadic
elicitation frames the task as one of distinguishing among elements, the expert generates a minimal set
of discriminating dimensions, rather than a larger set of descriptive ones that

may or may not be of
practical use. In Ford et al.
, for example, the expert did not verbalize the key diagnostic factor
blue finger

in Figure 1) until he completed a repertory grid. Experts often find using this tool leads

rather than simple documentation of known facts and relationships. This is particularly true
for experts who are on the leading edge of their profession.

With respect to generality, distinctions based on the presentation of two elements tend
to be less
robust. In Kelly’s terms, they are relatively
, that is, they are more specific to the two
elements being considered and less likely to be applicable to new elements introduced later. Experts
produce more

constructs when the
y consider three or more elements at a time.

Researchers have developed several forms of grids including implication grids, resistance
grids, bipolar implication grids, dependency grids, exchange grids, and mode grids among others
Webber, 1984; Fransella & Bannister, 1977; Hinkle, 1965; Shaw, 1981)
. They have also
devised a variety of grid formats in which people, objects, events, situations, or other kinds of
elements, are either categorized, rated, or rank

on a set of constructs. Several analysis
procedures have also been developed. We discuss some of these techniques in Section 3.2.

In addition to eliciting and analyzing knowledge, repertory grid techniques have other features that are
useful in the knowl
edge acquisition process. First, they apply to a variety of problems. For instance,
repertory grids can be viewed as a component of a database in entity
attribute form

(Chen, 1980)
, with
elements as entities, constructs as attribute
s, and allocations of elements to locations on construct
dimensions as values. Secondly, representing knowledge in repertory grids can simplify the creation of

interfaces to databases and spreadsheets
(Bradshaw, Covington, Russo, & Boose, 1990;

Covington, Russo, & Boose, 1991; Cañas, Ford, Crouch, & Vasani, 1992; Chen, 1980)
. Another
advantage of grids is that they make it easy to inspect and analyze the organization and logic of expert
knowledge. The spreadsheet
like visua
l metaphor amplifies the expert’s ability to recognize and offer
distinctions between the elements
(Ford, Petry, Adams
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
. Recognition and
completion of patterns in the data are facilitated by the structure and r
elative compactness of the matrix
representation as compared to rules. Furthermore, representation by grids facilitates testing for
ambiguity, redundancy, and incompleteness
(Cragun & Steudel, 1987)

2. Recent Theoretical Developme

Before our discussion of specific tools in section three, it is important to understand something of the
background of their evolution. Each has been influenced by the particular theoretical and practical
interests of their developers. Furthermore, be
cause of extensive collaboration, and other professional
interaction, a great deal of cross
fertilization across research groups has taken place. For example,
work on ICONKAT at the University of West Florida has benefited from the collaboration of Novak,
major contributor to
assimilation theory.

Concept maps,

originally developed by Novak
, and
applied to educational settings, are a mediating representation that have been used successfully by
Ford, Adams
Webber, and their co

in several aspects of the knowledge acquisition process
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991, see Section 3.1.2)
. Both the theory and
the technique are constructivist. We discuss assimilation theory and c
oncept maps in Section 2.1.

A further set of developments has served to clarify the underlying rationale of repertory methods.

(Boose & Bradshaw, 1987)

was a knowledge acquisition tool that provided an explicit

representation for elements and constructs. We briefly describe the approach in Section
2.2. At the University of Calgary, Gaines and Shaw are working to produce a theoretical foundation
for tools that organize constructs into hierarchies
nes, 1991b; Gaines, 1991c; Gaines, 1991d;
Gaines, 1991e)
. They have defined an intensional logic of distinctions that is compatible with the KL
ONE family of semantic network representations
(Borgida, Brachman, McGuinness, & Resnick
, 1989;
Brachman & Schmolze, 1985)
. In addition, the research group associated with the University of West
Florida have developed a logic of confirmation that incorporates the basic tenets of personal construct
psychology directly into the logi
c as grounds for the determination of relevance, thus strengthening the
logic and extending personal construct theory
(Ford, 1987; Ford & Adams
Webber, 1991; Ford, Petry,
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
. In this approach, the degree of

confirmation is characterized by
epistemic probabilities arrived at by measuring the overlap (partial entailment) between the constructs’
extensions represented as binary bit strings. We discuss these developments in Section 2.3.

Finally, at The Boeing C
ompany, Bradshaw and Boose have combined repertory grids with decision
analytic representations called
influence diagrams
possibility tables

(Bradshaw & Boose, 1990;
Bradshaw, Chapman, Sullivan, Almond, Madigan, Zarley, Gavrin, Nims, & Bush
, 1992; Bradshaw,
Covington, Russo, & Boose, 1991)
. The new understandings resulting from work combining repertory
grids and influence diagrams provide a basis for principled reasoning under uncertainty and explicit
representation of preference
s for problems involving significant risk, high stakes, or complex
tradeoffs. Work combining repertory grids and possibility tables extends constructivist techniques to
exploratory design and configuration problems
(Bradshaw, Shema, Boose, & Ko
szarek, in preparation;

Shema, Bradshaw, Covington, & Boose, 1990)
. We discuss influence diagrams and possibility tables
in Section 2.4.

2.1. Assimilation Theory and Concept Maps

Ausubel’s assimilation theory is a cognitive learning theory that

has been widely applied to education
(Ausubel, 1963; Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1978)
. Like Kelly’s personal construct theory, it is
based on a constructivist model of human cognitive processes. Specifically, it describes how conc
are acquired and organized within a learner’s cognitive structure.

Ausubel argues that learning is synonymous with a change in the meaning of experience. His
fundamental premise seems deceptively simple
(Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1978,
p. 159)

“Meaningful learning results when new information is acquired by deliberate
effort on the part of the learner to link the new information with relevant,
preexisting concepts or propositions in the learner’s own cognitive structure.”

In short, meaningful learning involves the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing
cognitive structures. In Ausubel’s model, cognitive structure can be described as a hierarchically
organized collection of concepts representing one’s kn
owledge and experience
(Novak, 1977)
Concepts are perceived regularities in events or objects, designated by a label
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991)
. Assimilation theory stresses tha
t meaningful learning requires
that the learner’s cognitive structure contain anchoring concepts to which new material can be related
or linked. For this reason, Ausubel argued that “the most important single factor influencing learning is
what the learner

already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly.”

The concept map is assimilation theory’s major methodological tool for ascertaining what is already
known. In educational settings, concept mapping techniques have aided people of every age to
mine many fields of knowledge. Much of the assimilation theoretic research to date has involved
and exploited concept mapping
(Novak & Gowin, 1984)
. In addition, concept maps are of increasing
interest to those engaged in the proces
s of knowledge acquisition for the construction of knowledge
based systems
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991; Snyder, McNeese, Zaff, &
Gomes, 1992)
. Essentially, concept maps provide context
dependent represent
ations of a specific
domain of knowledge within a set of concepts. They are constructed so that the interrelationships
among the included concepts are evident. In fact, concept maps have been shown to help students
“learn how to learn” by making explicit t
heir personally constructed knowledge and providing a
structure for linking in new information. As a mediating representation, concept maps offer a flexible
framework for eliciting, representing, and communicating the emerging domain model. In this way,
ey are well suited to the view of knowledge acquisition as a constructive modeling process in which
the knowledge engineer and domain expert collaboratively build a domain model.

Concept maps structure a set of concepts into a hierarchical framework. More

general, inclusive
concepts are found at the highest levels, with progressively more specific and less inclusive concepts
arranged below them. In this way, concept maps display Ausubel’s notion of subsumption, namely that
new information is often relative

to and subsumable under more inclusive concepts. All concepts at
any given level in the hierarchy will tend to have a similar degree of generality. Figure 2 shows a

portion of a concept map produced by an expert in nuclear cardiology (by convention links
run top
bottom unless marked with an arrowhead).

Relationships between concepts in a map represent propositions. Propositions form semantic units by
linking together two or more concepts. In its most rudimentary form, a concept map contains just two
ncepts connected by a linking word to form a proposition. For example, “John is tall” would
represent a simple map forming a valid proposition about the concepts “John” and “tall”. A concept
acquires additional meaning as more propositions include it. Thus
, “John is tall”, “John is a person”,
“John eats” and so on, all expand the meaning of the concept “John”. In this sense, we can think of
concept maps as representing meaning in a framework of embedded propositions. Much of the
expressive power of concept
maps comes from the fact that the user is free to employ an unlimited set
of linking words to show how meanings have been developed. When concepts and linking words are
carefully chosen, these maps are powerful tools for representing and communicating nuan
ces of

Figure 2.

A portion of a concept map from the domain of nuclear cardiology

Adapted from figure in
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991; Snyder,
McNeese, Zaff, & Gomes, 1992)

In the ICONKAT s
ystem, concept maps are an important mediating representation used to provide a
hierarchically ordered, conceptual overview of the domain model arising from the collaborative efforts
of the expert and knowledge engineer. The concept maps provide “knowledge

landscapes” (essentially
topographical maps) of the domain that inform the knowledge engineer about the potential and
appropriate use of other methods, such as repertory grids. For example, they may indicate where there
is enough knowledge (at given level

abstraction) to warrant the use of a repertory grid. More
importantly, in the ICONKAT environment, concept maps comprise the organizational structure for
entire domain model. It is into this semantic structure that other mediating representations (e.g.,
epertory grids, video, text, etc.) can be linked. Finally, the ICONKAT approach to explanation relies
on the aforementioned organizational structure of the domain model represented as a hierarchical
collection of concept maps. In ICONKAT, users construct t
heir own explanations while navigating
their way through the linkages among clusters of related mediating representations constituting the

Although ICONKAT provides the most extensive set of tools to assist with concept mapping,

also have benefited from the use of concept
like structures.

2.2. Hierarchical Knowledge and Repertory Grids

The need to represent hierarchies of elements and constructs at varying levels was recognized by
Boose in his work on the ETS
ose, 1984; Boose, 1986a)
. For instance, one of the first experts
interviewed tried to build a jet engine diagnostic aid. Parts and systems were listed as potential
elements (problem areas), and diagnostic symptoms were generated through triadic

Unfortunately, elements such as “spark plug” and “electrical system” both appeared in the same grid.
This caused difficulties when using grid elicitation techniques and some analysis tools. Even in cases
where grid information was at a similar

level of abstraction, there was a limit to how much information
could be comfortably represented in a single rating grid. One application included a 38
35 grid, but
it was hard for the expert to manage and comprehend that much information at once. A me
thod was
needed to decompose large grids into manageable, related subgrids.

In later versions, ETS used a

technique developed by Hinkle


that asked “how” and
“why” questions to elicit constructs at different levels
of abstraction. Then, in their work on
Boose and Bradshaw developed a scheme in which the underlying representation of grids was no
longer a two
dimensional matrix, but rather a network of linked frames in a multidimensional space
se & Bradshaw, 1987; Boose, Shema, & Bradshaw, 1989)
. A particular frame represented
information about a concept at the intersection of a particular case (problem area), an expert (or other
knowledge source) who knew something about that case,
an element that represented an alternative
that was a possible solution for the problem, and a particular distinction that was relevant to the
selection of the alternative. Experts used a “map view” to navigate through the knowledge base (Figure
3). By sel
ecting combinations of nodes in the case, expert, element, and construct hierarchies, they
could specify a portion of the knowledge base to be displayed as a repertory grid. Structural changes
made in the network views were immediately reflected in the gri
ds, and vice versa. Various dialogues,
in conjunction with laddering and statistical analysis techniques, helped experts decide how to
decompose and structure the hierarchies.

Figure 3.

Experts select nodes from each hierarchy to show portions of the kn
owledge base in grid
format. Adapted from figure in
(Boose & Bradshaw, 1987)

Gaines and Shaw’s

intensional logic provides a theoretical foundation for generalizing and
refining some of the ideas prev
iously demonstrated in
. As described in the next section, their
theoretical framework also provides a conceptual bridge between constructivist knowledge acquisition
tools and the semantic network representations for which relationships between conc
epts are a major

2.3. Recent Developments in the Logic of Personal Construct Theory and Repertory Grids

An important set of studies has helped to clarify the logical rational underlying some constructivist
knowledge acquisition tools.

Gaines and Sh
aw have defined an intensional logic of distinctions
is compatible with the KL
ONE family of semantic network representations.

We describe these
developments in Section 2.3.1. In a related vein, Ford and colleagues

have proposed a theor
y of
confirmation that incorporates the basic tenets of personal construct psychology directly into the logic
as a basis for the determination of relevance, thus strengthening the logic and extending personal
construct theory. Section 2.3.2 gives a brief s
ummary of these developments.

2.3.1. Intensional Logic and Semantic Networks

As a foundation for KSSn/KRS, Gaines and Shaw


show how distinctions may interrelate. They
take the relations of subsumption and disjunction to be m
inimally sufficient to define an intensional
logic of distinctions, from which more complex relations may be derived. Subsumption between
computational concepts corresponds to the “is
a” relation common in semantic network
representations, while disjunctio
n corresponds to the definition of disjoint concepts:

“A concept is defined to be
that mental entity imputed to a distinction making
agent as enabling it to make a particular distinction....
A construct is defined
formally to be

a triple of two disjoint d
istinctions mutually subsumed by a third…

and psychologically as the triple of concepts assumed to underlie the
(Gaines & Shaw, 1990, p. 9)

Figure 4(A) illustrates how the notion of similarity is captured through the

shared concept
, while
the notion of contrast is captured through the disjunctive arc separating the subsumed concepts


The minimal subsuming concept,
illustrates the idea that a construct is convenient for
anticipating a finite rang
e of events. Since concepts in the graph are nodes, and constructs are arcs,
Gaines and Shaw conclude that concept and construct are graph
theoretically dual relations.

Figure 4.
The structure of a construct (A); a construct with three alternative valu
es (B); and two
constructs in an ordinal relationship (C). Adapted from figure in
(Gaines & Shaw, 1990)

Figure 4(B) shows a triple of disjoint concepts (young


old) that could be seen as
alternative values along an age
dimension. The possibility of putting events along numeric scales may
be represented by extending this structure in various ways. Ordinal relations between constructs may
be derived from the ordinal relation of subsumption, as shown in Figure 4(C). Here, t
he construct
characterized by the triple of goodness: good

bad subsumes the construct interestingness: fun


Applying this conceptual framework to events requires a description of how the distinctions relate to
the things distinguished or represente
d (i.e.,
). Figure 5 represents Ferio and Jules as elements
) placed at particular points. Individuals are necessarily leaf nodes in the graph
representation. We can characterize the repertory grid as a matrix of concepts, individual
s, and

Figure 5.

Ferio and Jules as elements (individuals) in relation to the constructs of age and wealth.
A.dapted from figure in
(Gaines & Shaw, 1990)

Gaines and Shaw’s work has laid a foundation for implementi
ng constructivist representations that
correspond to a formal semantics for semantic nets. This will enable a better exchange of ideas
between researchers. Work in this area has also produced a “visual language” for semantic networks.
We discuss the implem
entation of this language in KSSn/KRS in Section 3.1.3 below.

2.3.2. The Logic of Confirmation and Personal Construct Theory

The process of deriving construct relationships from repertory grid data relates to the problem of

the production of uni
versal generalizations based on a finite number of evidences. The
inductive probability of an argument depends on the strength of the evidence that the premises provide
for the conclusion. Closely related to efforts aimed at developing an adequate logic of

induction, are
those focused on elaborating what is known as the logic of confirmation. The central problem in the
study of the logic of confirmation has long been the problem of
. In this context, a useful
theory of relevance is one that plausib
ly elucidates the method implicit in judgments of confirmation
as performed by actual humans

not by some imaginary fully rational being. The shifting relevance of
aspects of ordinary situations would be cause for gloom in AI and cognitive science, were it
not for the
successful human exemplar.

Consider the paradox of the raven
(Hempel, 1965)
. Most observers find it disturbing that the existence
of a white handkerchief can be formally shown to confirm the hypothesis “all ravens are b
lack.” This
result offends our intuitions which hold the existence of a white handkerchief irrelevant to a hypothesis
about ravens. Ford and Adams
Webber have elaborated a constructivist approach to classificatory
confirmation that justifies this natural i
(Ford & Adams
Webber, 1991; Ford, Petry, Adams
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
. Despite their formal equivalence in terms of symbolic logic, the proposition
that “all ravens are black” and “all non
black things are non
ravens” are p
ragmatically very different.
That is, they are not confirmed and disconfirmed by the same evidence.

In an attempt to address the paradox of the raven, Von Wright


noted that generalizations have
an associated range of relevan
ce, and consequently, only things within a generalization’s range of
relevance may constitute confirming or disconfirming evidence. All other things (i.e., things outside
the range of relevance) are irrelevant. Furthermore, when a generalization’s range of

relevance is not
specified (which is typically the case), it is taken to be the “natural range of relevance,” meaning “the
class of things that fall under the antecedent term.” However, this seems a little like question begging;
a serious practical proble
m remains, how is this “natural range of relevance” to be operationally

The class of items deemed as falling under the antecedent term will vary from person to person and
over time. From a Kellyan point of view, the problem of epistemic confirmat
ion (i.e., non
demonstrative inference in the service of individual fixation of belief) is at the most primitive level,
fundamentally psychological in nature, and will not submit to a purely syntactic (i.e.,
a priori

approach. Ford and Adams
er have suggested that Kelly’s range corollary (discussed in Section
1.4) can lend Von Wright’s theoretical notion of relevance a basis for realization
(Ford, 1987; Ford &
Webber, 1991; Ford, Petry, Adams
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
. According to personal construct
theory, hypotheses are based on the overlap or intersection of the constructs’ ranges of convenience.
Moreover, the repertory grid provides a method of operationally defining Von Wright’s range of
relevance for a given hy
pothesis in the universe defined by the grid elements. Specifically, Ford and

Webber have elaborated a theory of non
quantitative (or classificatory) confirmation

incorporates the fundamental tenets of personal construct psychology directly into

the logic as a
foundation for the determination of relevance, thus strengthening the logic, and extending personal
construct psychology. This work on a classificatory theory of confirmation provided the foundation for
the subsequent development of a quant
itative logic of confirmation (discussed below) consistent with
personal construct psychology.

Logic is traditionally presented as if there is a great conceptual chasm between considerations of
deductive and inductive logic. In fact, inductive logic is fr
equently regarded as a contradiction in
terms, or at best as a poor sibling of deductive logic. However, when operating from within the logical
framework of entailment, the processes of induction and deduction may be intimately related.
Deductive logic can

be characterized by the idea of complete logical entailment, while inductive logic
can be described by a relation of partial entailment. In this limited sense, deductive reasoning may be
considered a special case of inductive reasoning. This situation is
portrayed diagrammatically in Figure

Figure 6.
Pictorial representation of deduction and induction as entailment.

Adapted from figure in
(Salmon, 1973)

In Figure 6, the case of deductive logic is illustrated by situation A,

which represents the universal
propositions “all

s are

,” “all

s are

,” and “all

s are

.” Situation B represents the case of
inductive logic where the amount of overlap or partial entailment is measured by degree of
confirmation. Note that situation B illustrates the propositions “most

s are

,” “

s are

,” and

s are

.” Thus, transitivity does not hold under this probabilistic interpretation of induction.

Although diagrams such as those in Figure 6 are intuitively helpful, the task of measuring partial
entailment remains problematic. An
y method founded on purely numerical mechanisms cannot
provide the foundation for a probabilistic logic with truth
functional connectives
(Bundy, 1985)
Likewise, systems that assign numerical truth values to propositions or nonmate
rial conditionals
cannot provide a truth
functional probability logic without additional information about the
relationships between the atomic components of the antecedent and consequent.

We consider a hypothesis such as, “all

s are

” to be a nonmaterial conditional of the form,

might be, if

is a



.” We think of this conditional as affirming a bundle of
individual conditionals
(Quine, 1982)
: “If






;” “If






;” and so on. The
probability of such a proposition is based on a sample space of points in a universe w, corresponding
to situations in which the proposition will be either true or false. Thus, we represent such nonmaterial
conditionals as bit stri
ngs consisting of 1’s and 0’s. For example, i(

) = (i(

, i(

, …, i(

denotes the binary bit
string representing the occurrence or nonoccurrence of

. Thus, we have:

In other words,



is a

then i(


= 1,



is a

then i(


= 1,



is not a

then i(


= 0,



is a

then i(


= 1, otherwise i(


= 0.

Likewise, the symbol i(

) is referred to as the “incidence of
” and denotes an ordered subset of w
consisting of all points in which

occurs or is true.

The bit strings
described above provide the needed information for a truth functional probability logic
applicable to the measurement of partial entailment. Bundy


has proposed an incidence calculus
in which a set theoretic function is associ
ated with each logical connective from propositional logic.
An extended version of this calculus has been applied to the measurement of partial entailment
1987; Ford & Adams
Webber, 1991; Ford, Petry, Adams
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
. In this approach,
the degree of confirmation is characterized by epistemic probabilities arrived at by measuring the
overlap (partial entailment) between the constructs’ extensions represented as binary bit strings.
ICONKAT and its predecessor

both employ this method to automatically generate rules from
repertory grid data. DDUCKS and KRS/KSSn use somewhat different approaches to derive rules from
repertory grid data, as briefly described in section 3.2.

2.4. Decision Analysis, Influence Diagra
ms, and Possibility Tables

Many knowledge
based systems are prescriptive in nature. They aim not only to describe some actual
or potential state of affairs, but also to recommend specific actions. Recommendations made by such
systems depend on: the altern
atives available, information about consequences associated with the
alternatives, and preferences among these consequences. Unfortunately, knowledge
based systems
typically treat preferences implicitly and heuristically, making no provision for value stru
differing from those built into the system. In this section we discuss approaches combining decision
analysis with constructivist methodologies to overcome these limitations.

2.4.1. The Need for Explicit Preference Models in Knowledge
Based Systems

In their discussion of preferences, Langlotz, Shortliffe, and Fagan


cite an example rule from
MYCIN. This heuristic captures a physician’s knowledge that tetracycline therapy should be avoided
for children because it may cau
se dental staining.


1) The therapy under consideration is tetracycline

2) The age (in years) of the patient is less than 8


There is strongly suggestive evidence (.8) that tetracycline is not an appropriate therapy for use against the



gives a possible chain of four support rules for this heuristic. The first three inferences
have to do with how one event relates to the occurrence of the next. The fourth, however, is a compiled
plan of action bas
ed on the inference chain. Langlotz et al.

make the point that no matter how finely
we break down a chain of reasoning, one rule in the chain will always recommend action based on the
situation. Action recommendations always presuppose a set of preferenc
es, either stated or implied,
that cannot be derived from the logic of evidence.

tetracycline in youngster

=> chelation of the drug in growing bones

=> teeth discoloration

=> undesirable body change

=> don‘t administer tetracycline

Because of
the nature of heuristics, it is difficult to represent explicitly and flexibly the unique
circumstances and tradeoffs that may justify an exception to the heuristic. What if, for example, we
found one or more of the following to be true:

the infecting
organism were resistant to all drugs except tetracycline?

the only undesirable bodily change that tetracycline caused was minor intestinal distress?

the probability of staining due to tetracycline for a particular patient was only 1 in 100? 1 in

When tradeoffs are embedded implicitly within heuristics, it becomes impractical to ask, let alone
answer, such questions. For example, we could modify the knowledge base by adding additional
premises to the rule above:

3) The organism can be treated by

something other than tetracycline

4) There is evidence that tetracycline will cause significant intestinal distress

5) The probability of dental staining due to tetracycline for the patient is less than .01

But since the strength of our recommendation ma
y vary depending on the circumstances present in a
given situation, we would need to add a separate rule for each action and each particular combination
of evidence. Representing the knowledge in this form makes it impossible to vary the parameters of
erence tradeoffs (e.g., risk of dental staining versus effectiveness of tetracycline versus cost of
treatment) smoothly in response to differences in situation and preferences between patients. While it
is possible to muster empirical arguments for the tru
th or falsity of some

claim, the
judgments of

that guide recommendations and action (given that evidence) are inherently
subjective: some patients are more willing to take risks than others; some are more concerned about
treatment effect
iveness; some are more able or willing than others to pay for expensive alternatives
that minimize risk. The greater the stakes of the decision, the more serious are the consequences of
implicit, inflexible representations of preferences. For this reason,
several researchers have discussed
the need to include such explicit preference models in the knowledge engineering process
1987; Henrion, Breese, & Horvitz, 1991; Henrion & Cooley, 1987; Holtzman, 1989; Keeney, 1986;
Langlotz, Shortl
iffe, & Fagan, 1986)

Bradshaw and Boose


argued that decision analysis could be effectively combined with
constructivist methods to model complex problems. Early on, they realized that heuristic approaches to
ertainty and preferences were inadequate for high
stakes decision
making. After evaluating
alternative approaches, they settled on a method that combines repertory grids with decision
representations called
influence diagrams.

2.4.2. Combining Re
pertory Grids and Influence Diagrams

Influence diagrams
(Howard & Matheson, 1984; Miller, Merkhofer, Howard, & Rice, 1976)

have been
an important advance in the representation of decision problems and recent developments have
ed their usefulness as a structuring and communication device between participants in the
(Geiger & Heckerman, 1991; Heckerman, 1991; Henrion, Breese, & Horvitz, 1991; Howard,
1988; Pearl, 1988; Wiecha & Henrion, 1987)
. Inf
luence diagrams can be directly solved to obtain
recommended actions in a way that is consistent with probability and utility theory. In addition, several
analysis techniques (e.g., sensitivity analysis, value of information, value of control) can be used
gain insight into the problem being represented.

Figure 7 shows a screen snapshot of a DDUCKS virtual notebook containing an influence diagram.
The diagram represents a generic medical decision making template
(Bradshaw, Chapman, & Sullivan
1992; Bradshaw, Chapman, Sullivan, Almond, Madigan, Zarley, Gavrin, Nims, & Bush, 1992)
. The
problem is to determine the best treatment alternative for a cancer patient, taking treatment risks and
other diagnostic uncertainties into account.
The treatment strategy is composed of two decisions (Test,
Treatment), represented by square nodes on the diagram. Round nodes represent treatment
uncertainties (Results, Therapeutic Effect, Side
Effect), diagnostic uncertainties (Patient
Demographics, Obs
ervable Symptom, Hypothetical Disorder, Physiological Need), and Cost. The
sided node labeled “Value” has been designated as the criterion to maximize in evaluating the
model to determine the best treatment strategy.

Figure 7.

A DDUCKS virtual no
tebook containing an influence diagram for a generic medical
decision making template.

Unfortunately, the creation of valid influence diagram models can require a relatively high level of
sophistication in the theory and practice of decision analysis. Inf
luence diagram
based tools contain
some of the algorithms of decision analysis practice, but cannot embody the experience and intuition
of decision analysis professionals in formulating and appraising decision models.

Constructivist knowledge acquisition
methods can be used to overcome some of these problems. For
example, Gaines

(1977; 1987a; 1987b; 1991a)

has elaborated aspects of constructivist theory that bear
on the role of preferences in personal decision making. He proposes a
hierarchical model that posits
two fundamental processes operating as a person models the world:

flow of

as surprise about events (“news of a difference”

(Bateson, 1972)
upward through the hierarchy when lower level
s cannot account for events, and

flow of

downward as lower
level predictive models accounting for events are
created to be consistent with higher
level ones. The flow of preference can ultimately result
in action as higher levels attempt to
influence the anticipated future.

Bradshaw and Boose have attempted to make operational certain aspects of Gaines’ model by making
a distinction between
information grids
preference grids.

Information grids represent beliefs about
events, qualities, o
r states of the world and conditional probability relationships to other events,
qualities, or states (as in the grid in Figure 1). In preference grids, the elements represent alternatives
for a decision and constructs represent distinctions of utility tha
t are used to select the best alternatives
(as in the possibility table example below). For details on how repertory grids and influence diagrams
may be combined, see
(Bradshaw & Boose, 1990; Bradshaw, Covington, Russo, & Boose, 1990;

2.4.3. Combining Repertory Grids and Possibility Tables for Synthesis Problems

In addition to developing methods for representing and reasoning with explicit preferences, Boose and
Bradshaw sought for ways to overcome other tool limitations for
certain classes of decision
problems. There is a traditional distinction in the literature between


(Rubinstein, 1975; Wise, 1985)
. Analysis problems are generally defined as those for which the

alternatives can be enumerated comfortably (e.g., simple classification or diagnosis). On the other
hand, problems involving synthesis (e.g., configuration, scheduling, planning, and design) are subject
to combinatorial explosion, typically involving far
too many possibilities to list. Synthesis problems
are often solved by

(rather than merely

between) alternatives. These alternatives
are constructed so as to be consistent with hard constraints and “good enough” with respect to soft

Many papers in the literature have disparaged classification models, suggesting that they are inherently
inferior to simulation models. However, Clancey

(in press)

has eloquently argued for the necessity and
lity of classification models, and researchers such as Gaines


have demonstrated
elegant approaches to resource allocation problems based entirely on classification. Bradshaw and his

suggested that decision analysis and constructivist methodologies could be
combined to treat synthesis problems as a sequence of decisions subject to local and global constraints.
Instead of using influence diagrams, the approach involved connecting repert
ory grids to
representations called
possibility tables
, which have been used manually in configuration and design
problems for many years
(Jones, 1981; McNamee & Celona, 1987; Zwicky, 1969)
. This approach is
implemented in DDUCKS as


(Bradshaw, Shema, Boose, & Koszarek, in preparation; Shema,
Bradshaw, Covington, & Boose, 1990)


hierarchical possibility tables are used to structure information about complex
alternatives, outcomes, or plan
s (Figure 8). Columns in the possibility table represent components,
functions, or issues that relate to the artifact being designed. Within each column, the various
possibilities listed identify a set of options being considered. Above each column, a set
distinguishing criteria appears. Comments about alternatives, columns, possibilities, criteria, ratings,
preferences, and constraints are portrayed in text annotation panes within the possibility table and
repertory grid views. Annotations define, justi
fy, or assert something about a particular element in the
table or grid. To construct a design alternative, a designer selects a set of possibilities from one or

more columns, defining a path through the table. The system can also suggest new alternatives
permuting the constraint space. The names of alternatives appear in the leftmost column.

Possibility tables can be associated with repertory grids to enter information about criteria affecting the
choice of options. A column of possibilities are repres
ented as elements in the grid, while the criteria
are shown as constructs.

can use repertory grid techniques to elicit and structure information
about design possibilities and gather the constraints and criteria that guide a designer in the selectio
n of
these possibilities. Repertory
based analysis tools help designers determine the adequacy of the
constraints and objectives and focus their attention on descriptions needing further refinement. (See
Bradshaw et al.
(in preparation)

for additional information about
constraint elicitation,
propagation, and refinement techniques.)

Figure 8.
possibility table for configuration of a computer system.

We have seen how decision analysis techniques can be comb
ined with constructivist representations
and techniques to model information and preferences in an explicit and rigorous manner. This is
especially valuable for problems involving a high degree of uncertainty, significant risk, high stakes,
or complex trad

3. A New Generation of Constructivist Knowledge Acquisition Tools

Over the past several years, many tools incorporating repertory grids have been applied to knowledge
acquisition. These include

(Boose & Bradshaw, 1987; Boose, Sh
ema, & Bradshaw, 1989)
(Boose, Bradshaw, & Shema, 1992)
(Boose, 1984; Boose, 1986a)
, Flexigrid
& Thompson, 1987)
, FMS Aid
Janardan &
Salvendy, 1987)
(Shaw & Gaines, 1987)

(Diederich, Linster, Ruhmann, & Uthmann, 1987; Diederich, Ruhmann, & May, 1987)
, KSS0
(Gaines, 1988)

(Ford, Petry, Adams
Webber, & Chang, 1991)
(Chang, 1985; Shaw &
Chang, 1986)
, and PLANET
(Gaines & Shaw, 1981; Gaines & Shaw, 1986b; Shaw, 1979)
. In addition,


reported success in applications of repertory grid techniques, and validation in a statistics
domain was discussed by Gammack and Young
(Gammack & Young, 1984)

In the remainder of the paper, we focus our attention on three “
generation” constructivist
knowledge acquisition systems: DDUCKS
(Bradshaw, Chapman, Sullivan, Almond, Madigan, Zarley,
Gavrin, Nims, & Bush, 1992; Bradshaw, Holm, Kipersztok, & Nguyen, 1992; Bradshaw, Holm,
Boose, Skuce, & Lethbridge, 1
(Ford, Cañas, & Adams
Webber, 1992; Ford, Stahl,
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991)
, and KSSn/KRS
(Gaines, 1991b; Gaines & Shaw,
1990; Gaines & Shaw, in preparation)
. These s
ystems form an interesting cross
section of the state
art for two reasons:


They embody the extensive theoretical work integrating the complementary perspectives
discussed in Section 2.


They have evolved through use of the tools in a variety
of contexts and overcoming the
limitations discovered their application.

In discussing these tools, we pass over much of the development history leading up to these efforts.
More comprehensive historical accounts have been written by Boose et al.
, Ford et al.
and Gaines

We begin with a discussion of general architectural and user
interface features of the tools (section
3.1). Following this, we describe new deve
lopments in analysis and induction techniques (3.2),
multiple expert analysis, and group use of tools (3.3).

3.1. General Architectural and User
Interface Features

There are interesting similarities and differences in the architectures and user
of the three
systems. We give a description of each tool below

3.1.1. DDUCKS

DDUCKS (Decision and Design Utilities for Comprehensive Knowledge Support) is an “open
architecture” constructivist knowledge modeling environment. Researchers are exploring how

individual knowledge modeling and decision support tools can work cooperatively with one another
and with commercial applications such as spreadsheets, databases, or hypermedia software
Holm, Kipersztok, Nguyen, Russo, & Boose, 1991
.Applications include enterprise modeling and
(Bradshaw, Holm, Kipersztok, & Nguyen, 1992)
, group decision support in an electronic
meeting room environment
(Boose, Bradshaw, Koszarek, & Shema, 1
, and bone

transplant patient follow
up care
(Bradshaw, Chapman, & Sullivan, 1992; Bradshaw, Chapman,
Sullivan, Almond, Madigan, Zarley, Gavrin, Nims, & Bush, 1992)

It is useful to think of DDUCKS in terms o
f four layers of functionality: workbench, shell, application,
and consultation. Starting with any layer in the system, a user can produce a set of tools, models, and
ontologies that can be used to help in configuration of a more specialized system at the
layer below
(Bradshaw, Ford, & Adams
Webber, 1991; Bradshaw, Holm, Boose, Skuce, & Lethbridge, 1992)
This approach was inspired in many respects by the success of the PROTEGE architecture in
facilitating reuse and configuration of
methods, tasks, and mechanisms for diverse applications
(Musen, 1989; Puerta, Tu, & Musen, in press)

DDUCKS is based on a three
schemata approach to knowledge representation that distinguishes
between external, conceptual, and int
ernal schemata
(Bradshaw, Ford, & Adams
Webber, 1991; Ford,
Bradshaw, Adams
Webber, & Agnew, in press)
. As an implementation of the external schemata, we
emphasize the use of
mediating representations

that serve as a means of commun
ication between
expert and knowledge engineer.
Intermediate representations
implement the conceptual schema, and
help bridge the gap between the mediating representations and a particular implementation formalism.

Intermediate representation.
The intermed
iate representation (i.e., concept model) consists of
entities, relationships, and situations as the primary concepts, and domains, properties, and constraints
as secondary concepts
(Bradshaw, Holm, Boose, Skuce, & Lethbridge, 1992; Tauzovich &

. DDUCKS uses CODE4 as the underlying conceptual representation
(Lethbridge, 1991;
Lethbridge & Skuce, 1992; Skuce, 1991; Skuce, in press; Skuce & Lethbridge, submitted for
. The concept model in
CODE provides facilities for semantic unification of information
that may be simultaneously portrayed from a number of perspectives (e.g., repertory grids, concept
maps, possibility tables, influence diagrams). It sits between the views and the implementat
formalism, translating the user’s actions into changes in knowledge and database structures
Holm, Boose, Skuce, & Lethbridge, 1992)
. The general taxonomy for conceptual modeling has been
derived from Tauzovich and Sku
, with extensions for dynamic and epistemic aspects of the
model. CODE4 provides a rich paradigm for the definition of knowledge
level concepts. A collection
of integrated tools supports the important and frequently overloo
ked aspects of conceptual,
ontological, and terminological analysis
(Skuce & Monarch, 1990)
. We are developing extensions to
the representation to allow the system to make use of additional inferencing and representation
similar to those found in Sowa’s

(1984; 1991)

conceptual graphs and Gaines’
(1991b; 1990;
in preparation)

KRS, which interpret taxonomic and entity
relationship structures in terms of typed
formal logics. A f
irst order logic system and a simple natural language system allow various types of
syntactic and semantic checks to be performed, if desired. A comprehensive lexicon allows references
to concepts to be automatically maintained and quickly accessed. We emp
hasize the importance of
comprehensive lexical support so that terminology can be carefully chosen and subsequently managed.
Concept libraries and default inferencing mechanisms can be augmented by users employing graphical
views and an integrated scriptin
g and query language. A translator is currently under development to
allow conversion of knowledge represented into KIF

(Genesereth & Fikes, 1992)

syntax by means of


Figure 9.

The intermediate representation in DDUCKS

surrounded by examples of generic interaction
paradigms, and mediating representations.

Interaction Paradigms.
interface management systems (UIMS) are becoming an essential part
of interactive tool developm
ent and end
user tailoring
(Hix, 1990)
. We are extending the capabilities
of a Smalltalk
based direct
manipulation user
interface builder to build a DDUCKS UIMS, called
Geoducks. Geoducks

relies on the Smalltalk
80 MVC (model
controller) approach for managing
consistency among views
(Goldberg, 1990)
. The MVC approach provides a way to factor out the data
in an underlying model from the data in dependent views, so that changes to the model in one view a
immediately reflected in all related views.

The six views surrounding the intermediate representation (see Figure 9) correspond to the generic
interface interaction paradigms that are implemented as abstract “pluggable” view classes
dams, 1988a; Adams, 1988b; Krasner & Pope, 1988)
. These views are generic in the sense that they
define the graphical form for the representation, but the form has no underlying semantics. Within
DDUCKS, various configurations of these interact
ion paradigms can be called up in
sketchpad mode

to record free
form graphical and textual information. For example, individuals and groups can capture
envelope drawings, agendas, issues, action items, requirements, concept

and other information pertinent to their task. While not part of the formal model, users can
link elements created in sketchpad mode to elements in other views in hypertext fashion.

Mediating representations.
Specialization facilities for concepts in a m
odeling ontology, in
conjunction with declarative
filtering agents



allow users to tailor generic
interaction paradigms for modeling purposes
(Bradshaw, Boose, Skuce, Lethbridge, & Shema, 1992)
By combi
ning one or more interaction paradigms with a semantics and problem
solving method
defined in the filtering agents, a methodology
specific or application
specific mediating representation
may be created. Users define mappings between symbols and actions in

the interaction paradigms, and

operations on logical entities, relationships, and properties in the intermediate representation. As
shown in Figure 9, the same interaction paradigm may be used to display and operate on different
aspects of the concept mod
el, and the similar aspects of the model may be edited using different
interaction paradigms. For example, influence diagrams combine a graph view with the concepts of
decision, chance, and value nodes and the problem
solving method of maximization of expe
cted utility
across decision alternatives. Trade study matrices (a methodology
specific kind of repertory grid) are
built out of a matrix view, the concepts of alternatives, criteria, and ratings, and a heuristic
classification problem
solving method. Proc
ess views combine a graph view with the a formal
definition of activities and relationships between them. Type definition views allow the users to extend
the built
in ontology
(Bradshaw, Boose, Skuce, Lethbridge, & Shema, 1992)
. Con
figured with
semantic information, these mediating representations operate in
modeling mode
, portraying different
perspectives on the formal concept model in the intermediate representation. By virtue of the model
controller paradigm, consistency is m
aintained among the model views.

Virtual notebook.
The volume and diversity of information that can be represented in DDUCKS
drives a requirement for ways to manage, organize, and link that information. A
virtual notebook
facility helps collaborating indi
viduals collect and organize the diverse materials associated with a
particular knowledge acquisition project. It also helps manage changes between different versions and
views of the model as it evolves. A new notebook is typically opened in “double

displaying a page on the right and one on the left as in a paper notebook. The left page typically
contains a table of contents view listing the set of pages available in the notebook. The right page
might contain a representation for some portion o
f the knowledge base. Users move from page to page
by selecting a “tab” on the side of the notebook or selecting an item in the table of contents view.
Alternatively, the user can query the notebook to bring up pages meeting user
defined criteria. Figure

shows a virtual notebook in single
page mode.

, groups can tailor the contents of the boiler
plate virtual notebook to be consistent
with their preferences for accessing, viewing, and using the information. For example, a knowledge
ring team’s blank notebook can come preconfigured with information about organizational
standards (e.g., concept and method libraries, reporting forms) and procedures (e.g., required steps in a
project plan), just as a real notebook could be preloaded with

labeled dividers and forms. Besides its
obvious use in managing information about the model, the virtual notebook supports the team as a
simple computer
supported meeting facilitation tool and as a form of group memory.

3.1.2. ICONKAT

ICONKAT (Integrate
d Constructivist Knowledge Acquisition Tool) is a knowledge acquisition and
representation system under evolutionary development at the University of West Florida
(Ford, Cañas,
& Adams
Webber, 1992; Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jo
nes, 1991)
. It incorporates
principles and techniques from both personal construct theory and assimilation theory. ICONKAT
provides extensive interactive assistance to the domain expert and knowledge engineer in
cooperatively modeling expertise
. Like DDUCKS, ICONKAT is based on a three
knowledge representation approach. The conceptual domain model is constructed within the
framework provided by ICONKAT’s mediating and intermediate representations

providing direct
support for model creat
ion, documentation, maintenance, knowledge base generation, and the resulting
expert system’s explanation facility.

ICONKAT’s collaborative modeling environment exploits the expressiveness of concept maps to
assist users in hierarchically organizing the v
arious mediating representations (e.g., other concept
maps, repertory grids, images, audio, video, documents) into browseable hypermedia domain models
(see Figure 11). Interestingly, concept maps play a twin role in this process. First, concept maps are
e of the principal means by which the expert and knowledge engineer represent knowledge about the
domain. In particular, concept maps have proven effective in eliciting and representing what the
participants see as the knowledge landscape or topology at a
given level of abstraction. Second,
concept maps furnish a rich organizational framework that can serve as the interface to the domain
model. Thus, while the expert and knowledge engineer collaborate in using concept maps to model the
former’s problem
ing knowledge, they are also, in essence, building the structure of the interface
that subsequent users will employ to explore the model.

The knowledge acquisition process and its ramifications do not culminate with deployment of the
system, but rather ex
tend throughout its useful life. Accordingly, in addition to a flexible modeling
environment, ICONKAT has been designed with the complete knowledge
based system life cycle in
mind. In particular, ICONKAT supports a new explanation paradigm, in which, the d
omain model that
emerges from the knowledge acquisition process is subsequently exported from the development
environment to the delivery environment, where it serves as the foundation of the explanation
capability for the deployed system.

ICONKAT was us
ed in the design and construction of NUCES: Nuclear Cardiology Expert System

(Ford, Cañas, Coffey, Andrews, Schad, & Stahl, 1992)
. This is a large
scale expert system for the
diagnosis of first pass cardiac functional images, a noni
nvasive radionuclide technique used to evaluate
heart wall motion abnormalities.

Mediating representations.
ICONKAT’s mediating representations are designed to promote
communication and understanding between the human participants in the knowledge acquisi
process. A good mediating representation fosters the constructive modeling processes (e.g., meaning
making and meaning sharing) by empowering domain experts and knowledge engineers to
cooperatively build models of expert knowledge. Furthermore, mediat
ing representations may
facilitate explanation (see discussion below) by enabling the system’s eventual users to explore the
conceptual domain model without resorting to low
level representations (e.g., C code, Lisp, rules).

ICONKAT’s principal mediating
representations are the concept map and the repertory grid. It uses
these complementary mediating representations synergistically. In ICONKAT, concept maps depict
the conceptual relationships of the domain as constructed during the knowledge acquisition pr
For example, the concept map in Figure 2 expresses relationships among ejection fraction (a critical
numerical value), other manifestations of heart wall image abnormalities (e.g., “blue fingers”), specific
heart diseases (e.g., ischemia), and human

physiology. The relevant disease states appear at the lowest
levels of the map, and were incorporated into the expert’s repertory grid (Figure 1). Note that the map
includes the domain expert’s personally constructed expertise in the form of visual analog
ies that he
employs as markers for perceived image abnormalities (e.g., “blue fingers,” “bull’s
eyes” and “ice
cream cones”). These markers are the basis upon which the expert differentiates the various disease
states, and were included as constructs in a
repertory grid. In addition to concept maps and repertory

grids, ICONKAT supports the use of a variety of other mediating representations, such as images,
audio, Quicktime movies, and documents.

Intermediate representation.
ICONKAT’s intermediate represen
tations perform an important
integrative function and are an area of ongoing evolution, testing and revision. Although mediating
representations have enhanced the richness and subtlety with which the human participants in the
knowledge acquisition process
can model the domain, the need for integrative intermediate
representations has become increasingly apparent. For example, much of the work on ICONKAT’s
intermediate representations has focused on how they might enhance the relationship between
repertory g
rids and concept maps. In addition, the kind of representations that ICONKAT provides as
the basis of its modeling environment (i.e., informal, graphical and textual mediating representations)
are designed for the benefit of humans, while implementation fo
rmalisms are focused on
computational issues

causing a substantial semantic gap. ICONKAT’s intermediate representations
are designed to partially bridge this gap, thus enabling feedback, analysis, and verification throughout
the entire process of system de
velopment. ICONKAT’s intermediate representations (sometimes
referred to as the ‘glue’) consist of a collection of modeling primitives implemented as abstract data
types in C++.

Support for Explanation.

A machine that incorporates expert judgment in a giv
en domain is more likely to find acceptance by
those seeking its advice if it can explain its recommendations. Accordingly, an explanation capability
should enable a user to get a complete, understandable answer to any sort of relevant question about
the k
nowledge explicitly and

embodied in a system’s implementation formalism (e.g., rules,
frames, or whatever). Unfortunately, the capacity of most current expert systems to explain their
findings (i.e., conclusions) is limited to inadequate, causal

descriptions of the behavior of the
performance environment’s reasoning mechanism. One key to the design of explanation subsystems
that are capable of deeper and less mechanistic accounts is to recognize that the development of an
explanation facility is
a fundamental aspect of the knowledge acquisition process
(Ford, Cañas, &
Webber, 1992)

Instead of arduously constructing a model of problem solving expertise, and then throwing it away
(upon translation into the syntax of t
he performance environment), ICONKAT’s explanation paradigm
allows users to exploit the model formed during the knowledge acquisition process. As depicted in
Figure 10, the model resulting from the knowledge elicitation process is exported from the
ment environment to the delivery environment. It serves there as the foundation of the
explanation capability for the deployed system.

Figure 10.

Transition of the domain model from development to the basis for explanation of the
delivered system. Adap
ted from figure in
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones, 1991)

A session from NUCES (a medical expert system built in the ICONKAT environment) illustrates the
ICONKAT approach to explanation (see Figure 11). When a us
er requests explanation, the
performance environment is interrupted, and the user is switched into the context
sensitive explanation
subsystem and conveyed to an appropriate location within the multidimensional space representing the
model. From there, the

user can assume an active role in the process of constructing his or her own
explanation by freely exploring the conceptual model and browsing among a wealth of supporting

objects (e.g., audio, video, documents, images, repertory grids, concept maps, rule
s, etc.). Users end
their browsing as soon as they are confident that they have constructed an adequate explanation from
the available information. This constructivist approach to explanation engages the user in an
interactive process of observation, inter
pretation, prediction, and control.

Figure 11.
A NUCES session illustrating the notion of participatory explanation.

The navigation problem, an important concern in hypermedia systems, is largely ameliorated by use of
the use concept maps as a guide to

traversing the logical linkages among clusters of related objects
(see the ‘Concept Map’ window in Figure 11). Concept maps provide an elegant, easily understood
interface to the domain model. A system of concept maps is interrelated by generalization and

specialization relationships among concepts, which lead to a hierarchical organization. The
explanation subsystem provides a window that shows the hierarchical ordering of the various maps,
highlights the current location of the user in the hierarchy, and

permits movement to any other map by
clicking on the desired map in the hierarchy (see the window ‘Concept Map Hierarchy’ in Figure 11).

Figure 12.

up of the icons found at each node of the concept maps.

Depending on the location of the user i
n the domain model, he or she has different options to explore.
At each node, the user can select from a menu of icons as shown in Figure 12. These correspond to

(a textual document),
, a popup menu of
concept maps
repertory grids


using Quicktime) related to the topic of the selected node. These icons will appear in various
combinations depending on what information is available for a given concept. The “Concept Map”
window in Figure 11 shows how the concepts (nodes) are po
pulated with the icon menus illustrated in
Figure 12. At any time, the user can backtrack by clicking on the ‘back
arrow’ icon, as shown in the
‘Concept Map’ window. This scheme provides the user great flexibility in navigating through related
concepts, as

well as, guideposts in moving among the various sources of information available for a
specific concept.

3.1.3. KSSn/KRS

KSSn (Knowledge Support System) is an ongoing experiment in the development of knowledge
acquisition tools which incorporates aspects

of personal construct psychology. KSSn is designed
around a knowledge representation server (KRS) implemented in C++
(Gaines, 1991b)
, providing
services based on those of KL

(Borgida, Brachman, McGuinness, &

Resnick, 1989;
Brachman & Schmolze, 1985)

augmented with inverse roles, data types for integers, reals, strings and
dates, and with rule representation that allows one rule to be declared an exception to others. The
server supports the operati
ons of intensional logic, and one of the modules attached to it is a graphic
knowledge editor supporting the associated visual language
(Gaines & Shaw, 1990)
. While KSSn
provides export facilities to expert system shells, the KL
/CLASSIC inference capabilities of the
server allow the system to be used as a complete problem solving environment. For example, KSSn
has been used on a room allocation problem

(Gaines, 1991e)

derived from an ESPRIT project


Karbach, Drouven, Lorek, & Schuckey, 1990)

that was placed in the public domain as part of Project
(Linster, 1991)

Figure 13 shows the architecture of KSSn as a family of modules attached to the kno
representation server, KRS. The description of the system is taken directly from Gaines

Figure 13.

Architecture of KRS. Taken from Gaines


The modules are (reading clockwis
e from the top left):

Interface modules to other knowledge bases and servers, including databases.

A hypermedia module allowing informal knowledge structures in text and images to be
captured, accessed and linked. The linkage structure itself is held

as a knowledge base.
specific tools may be developed in HyperCard and existing knowledge acquisition
tools in HyperCard may be integrated, for example Woodward’s

Cognosys for the
analysis of protocol data in textual form.

A text analysis modul
e allowing documents to be analyzed in terms of word usage, and
associations between significant words to be graphed

based on TEXAN in KSS0. This
enables protocols and technical documents to be used to initiate knowledge acquisition.

A repertory grid exp
ertise transfer module allowing graphic definition of concepts and
graphic creation and editing of individuals

based on the elicitation screens of KSS0.

A conceptual clustering module allowing interactive definition of new concepts

based on
the hierarchi
cal and spatial clustering from KSS0.

A knowledge editing module allowing the interactive development and editing of
knowledge structures through a visual language.

A conceptual induction module creating rules about specified subsets of individuals and

transforming them to a minimal set of concepts and default rules

based on the INDUCT

A problem solving module supporting frame, rule and case
based inference from the
knowledge structures.

A grapher laying out specified parts of the concept

subsumption graph, concept structures
and individual structures

based on an incremental layout algorithm that can be used
interactively to support the production of clear visual knowledge structures.

A language interface accepting and generating definit
ions and assertions in formal
knowledge representation languages, both textual and visual.

The knowledge representation services of KRS, the central server module, correspond to those of
(Borgida, Brachman, McGuinness, & Resnick, 1989)
, augmented with inverse roles, data
types for integers, reals, strings and dates, and with rule representation that allows one rule to be
declared an exception to others. For the purposes of this paper KRS may be seen as providing a fast
and p
rincipled implementation of a frame/rule knowledge representation and inference engine capable
of operating with large knowledge bases.

KDRAW Visual Language.
An important component of KSSn is the graphic knowledge editor,
KDraw. This is a drawing tool de
signed for ease of use that provides a visual structure editor for
semantic networks representing classes, objects and rules in KRS. Nosek and Roth


demonstrated empirically that the visual presentation of knowledge struc
tures as semantic nets leads to
more effective human understanding than does textual presentation of the same structures. Gaines


has developed a formal visual language that corresponds exactly to the underlying algebraic
ntics of KRS (see Figures 4 and 5). It has remarkably few visual primitives and is easily learned
and understood.

The KDraw design defines the visual syntax and underlying semantics of a visual language for term
subsumption knowledge representation langua
ges in the KL
ONE family. It focuses on the use of the
language to enter and edit knowledge visually, and on its application in a highly interactive graphic
structure editor. However, the language is also well
suited to the display of knowledge structures,

the system includes a grapher using Watanabe’s



The editor is modeled on Apple’s MacDraw with additional features appropriate to the language such
as arcs remaining attached to nodes when they are dragged. Th
e syntax of possible node
interconnections and constraint expressions is enforced

it is not possible to enter a graph that is

syntactically incorrect. Cut
paste of graphs and subgraphs is supported, and pop
up menus allow
nodes to be connected with the

minimum of effort. Updates are efficient and graphs with over a
thousand nodes can be manipulated interactively. Scroll, zoom and fit
size facilities allow large data
structures to be navigated easily.

The grapher interface to the knowledge representa
tion server allows the knowledge structures to be
used deductively to solve problems and give advice. Other programs such as HyperCard can also
access the server and provide additional functionality such as customizable end
user interfaces.
Repertory grid
data and induced rules, elicited and analyzed through the KSS0
style modules, may be
exported to the grapher for visual analysis and editing.

3.2. Analysis and Induction Techniques

Statistical procedures implemented in general
purpose repertory grid tool
s such as PLANET

(Gaines &
Shaw, 1981; Shaw, 1979)


(Mitterer & Adams
Webber, 1988)

have been used for
many years to explore interesting relationships among elements and constructs
well, Adams
Webber, Mitterer, & Cromwell, 1992)
. Such analysis techniques have included information measures,
nonparametric factor analysis, conventional factor analysis, principal component analysis,
multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical
cluster and linkage analyses, among others
Webber, 1979; Shaw, 1981)
. There also have been some attempts to construct precise mathematical
models of the cognitive processes reflected in grid data and to use these models for b
oth simulating the
performance of hypothetical respondents and predicting the responses of real ones
Lefebvre, & Adams
Webber, 1986)

KSS0 contain facilities for eliciting distinctions from text input or protocols
(Gaines, 1988)
. Text input
from a book or a set of protocols may be analyzed through a procedure which clusters associated
words and renders them as knowledge structures in the KRS visual language. The text is fully indexed
by all non
se words grouped by their stems, and a coupling matrix of word associations is
calculated using a simple distance
text measure. This leads to a schema from which the expert can
select related elements and initial constructs with which to commence grid e
licitation or semantic
network construction. In the longer term the text analysis system could be extended with the more
powerful parsing and semantic analysis techniques now being developed for knowledge bases
& Segami, 1990)

Induction techniques in ETS
(Boose, 1986a)
, KSS0
(Gaines & Shaw, 1986a)
, and

(Ford, Petry,
Webber, & Chang, 1991)

were originally developed to create rules from reperto
ry grids for
export to commercial expert system shells. A brief discussion of the logic of confirmation method by
which both

and ICONKAT derive rules from repertory grid data is given in Section 2.3.1.
Induction techniques based on information theory

have also become more widely available
(Smyth &
Goodman, 1992)
. For example, in KSSn/KRS, Gaines has developed INDUCT, a set of empirical
induction techniques that derive potential implications between concepts based on noisy datas
ets or
repertory grid information
(Gaines, 1989b)
. The system is an extension of Cendrowska’s


PRISM algorithm, augmented by the capability of generating more compact and intuitive rule

that include explicit exceptions
(Gaines, 1991c)
. Facilities in KSSn/KRS hierarchical concept
structures to be derived directly from these rules. In their work on

Bradshaw and

(Bradshaw & Boose,


explored the induction of Bayesian graphical models from repertory
grids and databases. This work is being continued as part of the medical application of DDUCKS
(Almond, Bradshaw, & Madigan, 1993; Bradshaw, Chapman, & Sulliv
an, 1992; Bradshaw, Chapman,
Sullivan, Almond, Madigan, Zarley, Gavrin, Nims, & Bush, 1992; Madigan, Raftery, York, Bradshaw,
& Almond, 1993; Madigan, York, Bradshaw, & Almond, 1993)

ICONKAT contains a novel approach supporting elicitation of

superordinate constructs through the
use of neural nets. GridNet uses the expert’s preliminary repertory grid data as input to a self
organizing, multilevel, artificial neural net. The net uses back propagation to identify abstractions
(“hidden features”)

taken from this nonlinear hierarchy. These artificial neural net abstractions are then
fed back to the expert as element clusters for the elicitation of new superordinate constructs. In their
nuclear cardiology application, Ford and his colleagues were su
ccessful in discovering high
pivotal constructs as a result of using GridNet
(Ford, Stahl, Adams
Webber, Cañas, Novak, & Jones,

3.3. Multiple Expert Analysis and Group Use of Tools

Two of the most active areas of kno
wledge acquisition research concern multiple expert analysis and
group use of tools. Theoretical as well as practical concerns also make this one of the more
controversial areas. We present a summary of work in this area by each group separately below.

3.1. KSSn/KRS



developed an approach to account for the psychological process not only of individual
people but also for that of functional groups. Gaines and Shaw


used this point of view t
develop several techniques to compare and contrast repertory grids obtained from different individuals.
They employ
exchange grids

for the measurement of understanding and agreement between either two
people or two occasions. Another procedure produces a

set of

which indicates the links of
similar construing within the group, and a
mode grid

showing the dimensions which are readily
understood by the majority of the group. Information from analyses can be used to establish consensus
about termino
logy and distinctions
(Shaw & Gaines, 1989)

Besides the analysis and use of knowledge from multiple experts, the integration of tools in
KSSn/KRS has provided the means for the development of special
purpose ‘groupware’ applicatio
based in part on work from previous efforts
(Shaw & Chang, 1986)
. One of these,

supports integration of repertory grids and socioanalysis tools with an electronic mail subsystem to
facilitate the formation and manage
ment of ‘special interest groups’

(Shaw & Gaines, 1991; Shaw &
Gaines, 1992)
. A second effort has developed
, a word processor that supports
collaborative authoring of scientific papers
(Malcolm & Gaines, 1991

provides a
style linkage structure to document components it is readily extended to provide hypertext
links to modules within a knowledge acquisition system. For example, source documents and
transcripts of interviews a
nd protocols may be linked to the knowledge structures that have been
developed based on them. This can be done without undermining the visual appearance of the original
document. Documents generated as part of the knowledge engineering process can also be

treated in
this way

they are normal documents with full typographic formatting and graphics, but they are also
tightly embedded in the knowledge structures being developed
(Gaines & Shaw, 1992)

3.3.2. ICONKAT

There are as many op
inions as there are experts

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Ford et al.

(Ford & Adams
Webber, 1992; Ford & Agnew, 1992)

have elaborated a personally
constructed and socially situated view of expertise that helps us understand the probl
ems that often
arise in conjunction with the elicitation and representation of expertise from multiple domain experts.
From this perspective, knowledge can be viewed as functional but fallible representations not of reality
writ large but of experience. In

this sense, an expert is perceived to possess more functional
representations than non
experts. For example, certain physicians are deemed to be ‘experts’ not
necessarily because they possess more valid medical information than their colleagues, but rathe
because they are perceived to be experts (for a variety of reasons) by their medical constituency. The
expert’s representations or procedures need not be valid, in a rational
empirical sense, they need only
be functional in helping the constituencies man
age their uncertainty, just, for example, as all kinds of
‘invalid’ past medical practice (when seen from the vantage of current medical belief) have done. It
follows that the expertise does not reside in the expert per se but in the expert
context. In
expertise is socially situated. Not only have we lost an external (reality) reference for expertise, but we
have lost an individual reference as well. The minimum unit of analysis is not the individual expert,
but rather is the expert in context wit
h his or her constituency.

Eliciting, representing, and usefully coalescing the personally constructed and context dependent
knowledge of several experts is a daunting task. Of course, it is not difficult to elicit all kinds of
standard information (i.e.,

widely shared consensual beliefs) from several experts. However, it is much
more difficult to elicit and represent the personally constructed experiential knowledge that accounts
for each of them having a constituency (the minimum requirement for holding
expert status in the first
place). Further, much of this knowledge is social and/or political in nature and all of it is context
dependent with respect to its usefulness. If, as we propose, expertise is personally constructed and
context dependent, then an
y effort to employ multiple domain experts must also elicit and represent the
various contexts in which they operate.

If on the other hand, the knowledge engineer assumes that there exists some ‘gold standard’ of
knowledge and that experts each possess va
rious parts of this existent knowledge (i.e., REALITY),
they might be tempted to follow the naive strategy, “that if one expert is good, then two are better.”
However, this is usually a mistake. In contrast, it has been observed that in some cases, co
the domain models of multiple experts tends to cause a “regression to the mean,” and that the resulting
system is ‘less expert’ than either individual
(Ford & Adams
Webber, 1992)
. In addition, Ford and

have noted o
n several occasions that the more successful the knowledge acquisition
process has been in modeling a particular expert’s most relevant functional abstractions

the more
difficult it will be to add another expert to the emerging and typically idiosyncratic
domain model. In
the somewhat unusual circumstance in which the knowledge engineer has multiple bona fide domain
experts at his/her disposal, we posit that it is usually preferable to build a separate knowledge base for
each expert rather than attempting t
o mingle their expertise in a single unified knowledge base.

This is not to say that there are no circumstances which warrant the use of multiple domain experts,
but rather to counsel caution in their application. In fact, ICONKAT’s collaborative modeling

environment is being adapted for application in a collaborative learning project with children of
several countries
(Cañas & Ford, 1992)
. Collaborative learning is construed as an enterprise in which
the learners, and perhaps their

teachers, cooperatively build an explicit knowledge model. There are
strong analogies between this collaborative learning project and the ICONKAT approach to knowledge
acquisition with multiple domain experts.

3.3.3. DDUCKS


incorporated some of t
he multiple expert analysis techniques developed by Shaw and Gaines
and used them to guide negotiation among experts
(Boose, 1986b; Schuler, Russo, Boose, &
Bradshaw, 1990)
also added the significant new feature of allowing

consultation users to
review the results from multiple experts simultaneously
(Boose & Bradshaw, 1987; Boose, Shema, &
Bradshaw, 1989)
The reasoning engine used results from the experts to display dissenting opinions
(i.e., the se
t of consultation results that was most different from the rest). These notions of “running the
experts in parallel” (i.e., independent expert systems) and of presenting dissenting opinions seem to be
useful in some situations. We plan over time to incorpo
rate some of these features in DDUCKS.
However, the cautions offered above and in Ford et al.

(Ford & Adams
Webber, 1992; Ford & Agnew,
should be kept in mind.

In addition to the multiple expert analysis techniques discussed a
bove, an effort is underway to adapt
the DDUCKS environment for group use. Boose et al.

(Boose, Bradshaw, Koszarek, & Shema, 1992)

describe a comprehensive decision model for group decision support systems, based on an analysis of
available electronic meeting support systems

(Post, 1992)

and their experience with
automated knowledge acquisition tools. The integrated model combines current brainstorming
(Nunamaker, Denn
is, Valacich, Vogel, & George, 1991)
, structured text argumentation
(Conklin & Begeman, 1987; Conklin & Begeman, 1988)
, repertory grids, possibility tables, and
influence diagrams. Each component will address weaknesses
in current group decision support
systems for certain types of problems.

4. Conclusions: The Future of Personal Construct Theory and Knowledge Acquisition

In conclusion, it is interesting to characterize the evolution of architecture for systems developed

The Boeing Company, University of West Florida, and University of Calgary groups in terms of four

Era of the single
approach rapid
prototyping tools.

The earliest predecessors of these tools (i.e.,
, PLANET) were based on repertor
y grid interviewing techniques, representations, and
analysis tools. They were generally used for rapid
prototyping of classification problems, following
which, rules were exported to a disk file for use by a commercial expert system shell.

Era of mono
lithic integration.
Integration became the theme as knowledge acquisition workbenches

and KSS0) incorporated several additional tools and representations. Within
export to external shells was de
emphasized as internal problem solvin
g capabilities increased and
became difficult to replicate in traditional shells.

Era of decoupling and interapplication communication
. This stage represents the current state
art. Developers of ICONKAT, KSSn/KRS, and DDUCKS decouple components
of their systems
to allow integration with tools springing from complementary theoretical perspectives (e.g., concept
maps, neural networks, influence diagrams, possibility tables, semantic networks) and to exploit
emerging operating
based interappl
ication communication protocols. Two
way communication
with commercial (e.g., HyperCard, Excel, Nexpert, databases) and internally
developed (e.g., DART,
Babylon) applications is established
(Bradshaw, Holm, Kipersztok, Nguyen, Russo, & Boose,
Gaines, 1991b)
. Easy tailoring of the user
interface is made possible by the adoption of three
knowledge representation approaches

(Bradshaw, Ford, & Adams
Webber, 1991; Ford, Bradshaw,
Webber, & Agnew, in press

and more general configurability allowing multiple problem
solving approaches is made possible through the use of PROTEGE II and KADS
like architectures
(Akkermans, van Harmelen, Schreiber, & Wielinga, in press; Linster, in press;

Musen, 1989; Puerta,
Tu, & Musen, in press)
. A better understanding of expertise and modeling is informing the design of
knowledge acquisition tools.
(Clancey, in press; Ford & Adams
Webber, 1992; Ford & Agnew, 1992;
Ford, Bradshaw,

Webber, & Agnew, in press; Gaines, in press; Gaines, Shaw, & Woodward,
in press)
. Knowledge acquisition tools are beginning to target wider applications such as information
retrieval, education, personal development, group decision suppo
rt, and design rationale support
(Boose, Bradshaw, Koszarek, & Shema, 1992; Bradshaw, Boose, & Shema, in preparation; Cañas &
Ford, 1992; Gaines, 1989a; Shaw & Gaines, 1992)

Era of knowledge sharing, adaptivity, and intelligent


Over time, we expect to see
systems migrate to a state of “intelligent interoperability,” that is “intelligent cooperation among
systems to optimally achieve specified goals”

(Brodie, 1989)
. In such a scheme, near
ly all
communication between systems will be on a peer
peer basis, with transparent mechanisms
preserving semantics across diverse representations and ontological frameworks
(Finin, McKay, &
Fritzson, 1992; Fulton, Zimmerman, Eirich, Burkhar
t, Lake, Law, Speyer, & Tyler, 1991; Genesereth
& Fikes, 1992; Gruber, 1992a; Gruber, 1992b; Perez, 1992; Sowa & Zachman, 1992)
. Computing will
become “ubiquitous” as microprocessors become an integral part of office and home surroundings and
s inexpensive laptop and palmtop systems with wireless communication systems proliferate
1991; Tesler, 1991; Weiser, 1991)
. System components will become even more modular and finely
(Gruber, in press; Rap
paport, 1991)
. Radical tailorability, embeddability, and reuse of
components will be possible through sophisticated object
management and end
configuration environments
(Arens, Feiner, Foley, Hovy, John, Neches, Pausch
, Schorr, & Swartout,
1991; Marques, Dallemagne, Klinker, McDermott, & Tung, 1992; Marques, Klinker, Dallemagne,
Gautier, McDermott, & Tung, 1991; Neches, Fikes, Finin, Gruber, Patil, Senator, & Swartout, 1991;
Neches, Foley, Szekely, Sukaviriya, Luo, Kova
cevic, & Hudson, 1992; X/Open & Group, 1991)
. A
wider variety of diagrammatic and pictorial representations will be available
(Bradshaw & Boose,
1992; Bradshaw, Holm, Boose, Skuce, & Lethbridge, 1992; Chandrasekaran, Narayanan, & Iw
in press; Norman, 1992)
. A final step toward intelligent interoperability would be to embed agent
programs within each cooperating system, which include primitives for communicating and sharing
resources with other agents
ickson, 1991; Kay, 1984; Laurel, 1990; Shoham, 1990)
. Sophisticated
intelligent assistant and information retrieval systems capable of learning and using context
indices will be based on such capabilities
(Boy, 1990; Boy, 1
991; Boy & Mathé, in press)

Over time, the convergence of advanced documentation and knowledge representation tools will
culminate in the development of a wide variety of
knowledge media,

computational environments in
which explicitly represe
nted knowledge serves as a means of communication among people and their
(Glicksman, Weber, & Gruber, 1992; Gruber, Tenenbaum, & Weber, 1992)
. Adaptive
document systems will tailor the content and presentation of multimedia

produced to the interests,
abilities, and situation of the user, fully integrating the functions of design documentation, operations
manuals, and computer
based training tools
(Bradshaw & Boy, in preparation; Spohrer, Vronay, &
Kleiman, 1991)
. They will transcend the artificial boundaries between documentation and modeling
tools, freely incorporating not only static drawings and graphical animations as illustrations, but also
simulations and full working models.

As new needs and op
portunities arise, the roots of personal construct theory continue to nourish
vigorous growth and development in knowledge acquisition research. We look forward to the new era
of work ahead, and see a bright future for modeling tools based on constructivis
t theory.


We express our appreciation to Neil Agnew, Russell Almond, Miroslav Benda, Guy Boy, Kathleen
Bradshaw, John Brennan, Alberto Cañas, John Coffey, Stan Covington, Jim Fulton, Pete and Cindy
Holm, Sam Holtzman, Ron Howard, Earl Hu
nt, Jeremy Jones, Oscar and Sharon Kipersztok, Cathy
Kitto, Joe Koszarek, Janusz Kowalik, Tim Lethbridge, Johnny Liseth, David Madigan, Jim Matheson,
Allen Matsumoto, Thom Nguyen, Joseph Novak, Steve Poltrock, Dave Purdon, Bob Schneble, Doug
Schuler, Kish
Sharma, Dave Shema, Doug Skuce, Dan Small, Howard Stahl, Bruce Wilson, Jeff
Yerkes, and Debra Zarley for their contributions and support. This work has benefited from
discussions with numerous colleagues in the knowledge acquisition community over the year
s, in
particular Brian Gaines, Mildred Shaw and Brian Woodward who provided materials used in this
paper to describe their work.


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